With John Velazquez unavailable after the death of his mother in law, Joan O’Brien, Japanese-born Daisuke (pronounced Dice-kay) Fukumoto stepped to the plate and delivered the mail in Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita as Holly and David Wilson’s Barraza rallied extremely wide to win going away by 2 ¾ lengths. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Barraza got about 6 ½ furlongs over the Arcadia, Calif., track’s hillside turf course in 1:12.66.

In a talent-laden eight-horse field, Barraza was taken in hand out of the gate and ridden confidently as veteran Bombard, race favorite Beer Can Man and French-bred Bran led a merry chase down the hill. With two horses beat approaching the dirt crossing, Fukumoto turned his mount loose but was fanned at least eight-wide by eventual runner-up Indian Peak.

Despite losing considerable ground, Barraza hit another gear when he straightened up turning for home, made the lead a sixteenth out and drew off to win easily while notching his second consecutive stakes win and his fourth win in a row.

“This was my first time down the hill at Santa Anita,” said Fukumoto, who was among the leading riders at Woodbine once again last year in only his sixth season of riding. “I just let the horse get comfortable. I fell a little bit too far behind but (he) just relaxed and I trusted the horse. The horse was doing good, I was just happy to be his jockey.

“My friend (trainer) Brian Koriner, he connected me with Vladimir Cerin. My agent tries for me every day, I got a good horse and that is all. I just want to say thank you to everyone…”

Fukumoto, won rode Mighty Heart to victory in the 2020 Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, won his first Grade 1 when he took longshot Town Cruise gate-to-wire in the Woodbine Mile last year. The young rider recently won his 200th career race, that coming recently at Santa Anita where he is spending this winter.

Barraza, claimed nine starts back out of a maiden $100,000 claiming win at Santa Anita on April 21, 2021, now has four wins from six Santa Anita turf starts. With his most recent start resulting in a 2 ¼-length victory in the restricted Clockers’ Corner Stakes going six furlongs out of Santa Anita’s turf chute on Jan. 22, Barraza was the 2-1 morning line favorite but ended up the second choice at post time.

Off at the 9-5 in a tough field of older horses, Barraza paid $5.60, $3.40 and $2.40.

A 4-year-old colt by Into Mischief out of the multiple graded stakes winning Halo Dolly, by Popular, Barraza now has five wins from 13 starts, four of them over the Santa Anita lawn. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he ran his earnings to $257,700.

“I think he is just developing,” said an understated Cerin of Barraza. “He’ll go two turns again and I think he’ll do it just as well. I had full faith in Daisuke. I left it up to him, to just use his judgement and just sit wherever he wanted to.”